Quigley’s narrative of Terrell and her court case is especially relevant in the wake of numerous well-publicized killings of...

JUST ANOTHER SOUTHERN TOWN

MARY CHURCH TERRELL AND THE STRUGGLE FOR RACIAL JUSTICE IN THE NATION'S CAPITAL

A retelling of the events leading up to the landmark civil rights Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. John R. Thompson Co., Inc., which invalidated segregated restaurants in the city in 1953.

The legal history of segregation in the United States is often bookended by two cases: Plessy v. Ferguson, which established the pernicious “separate but equal” precedent in 1896, and Brown v. Board of Education, which overturned Plessy and made state-sponsored segregation unconstitutional. However, as lawyer and journalist Quigley (The Day the Earth Caved In: An American Mining Tragedy, 2007) argues, the civil rights movement had other landmark cases and successes that created the momentum necessary for the Brown ruling. Among them is the case of Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954). In 1950, Terrell, an Oberlin-educated daughter of former slaves, was denied service at a popular Washington, D.C., cafeteria called Thompson’s Restaurant, only blocks away from the White House. The symbolism of the restaurant’s location was lost, however. Terrell, a lifelong activist and the first president of the National Association of Colored Women and founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, used her political clout to challenge the discriminatory practices of the restaurant. Quigley expertly analyzes the legal drama of the court case, which was not without complication or difficulty. (A judge initially dismissed charges against Thompson.) The author also smartly references the dissent and turmoil of the Supreme Court at the time, which had to deal with cases like Isserman and the trail of the Rosenbergs, to explore how the court unanimously voted in favor of Terrell, a clear signal that the age of segregation was unequivocally over.

Quigley’s narrative of Terrell and her court case is especially relevant in the wake of numerous well-publicized killings of black citizens by police officers and the latest wave of black activism.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-19-937151-8

Page Count: 364

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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